Berkshire International Film Festival 2013: Sister (2012)
Sister, a brutally affecting modern reinvention of the family drama from French-Swiss director Ursula Meier, intimately analyzes the relationship between the small brother-sister family unit of
Louise (Léa Seydoux) and Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein). Set in the shadows of the towering Swiss Alps, the duo lives in a small apartment with little means, absent of a mother and father, forcing the young Simon into thievery selling stolen ski equipment to support himself and his irresponsible older sister. While the two siblings share a genuine connection, Louise is mostly absent, preferring to spend her time with a variety of abusive men, and only showing up to ask Simon to loan her money. Simon, in need of a motherly figure and desperate to spend time with Louise, latches on to the attention of a kind stranger (Gillian Anderson) and her two children, as he patrols the ski resort searching for skis and other merchandise.
Meier masterfully crafts two different worlds between the high-profile alpine ski resort, filled with happy wealthy tourists and locals, and the cold desolate world below reflecting the isolated nature of the siblings’ relationship and struggling valley economy. While shot on a relatively low budget, Sister includes rather impressive cinematography of the Swiss landscape. The monstrous mountain range often belittles the onscreen characters, amplifying the intimacy of their relationships when the camera decides to wander closer. The two leads are positively electric, commanding the audience’s attention from the very first frame. Léa Seydoux, after scoring small roles in films like Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris and Brad Bird’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, looks to be a talent to watch after this impressive turn and her lead in Blue Is the Warmest Color, this years Cannes Palme d’Or winner.
Sister reveals a more profound societal commentary on young relationships during a shocking reveal (twist) early in its third act. Without giving anything away, those who see the film with enjoy further discussion and analysis of Simon’s suggested oedipus complex and Louise’s intricate and difficult actions and choices. This moving character study is indeed deserving of the international critical acclaim it has received and should find a generous independent audience here in the United States.
Sister is now playing in limited release.
For more information on the Berkshire International Film Festival, visit http://www.biffma.com/.